He who fears the Lord has a secure fortress and for his children it will be a refuge.
Proverbs 14:26

Friday, July 29, 2011

Road trip!! and singing through the alphabet

This is the only recent picture I could come up with of all four kiddos- it's from a few weeks ago when AJ and Maddie went to basketball camp.

Our lives have been just a wee bit crazy lately.  We've been delayed returning overseas about a month longer than we planned.  Up side of that is that we've gotten a good bit more time with family.  Down side is everybody is a bit out of sorts with all the uncertainty.  We finally have our tickets to return in a little over a week.  We spent the last few days in Georgia visiting with family one last time before heading back.  Jason had to go ahead and go back for some meetings, will return next Wednesday and then we'll all go back overseas together the following week- he'll be pretty worn out!  Since he is traveling, the girls and I made the drive back from Georgia to Memphis alone today.  I wasn't overly excited about the idea of traveling with the girls by myself considering how tired we all are.  Let's just say the girls haven't been getting along so great...  and we're all just a bit strung out.  Anyway, I asked for prayer in my facebook status this morning before I left and one of my sweet friends responded with a comment about how much fun we would have and what great memories the girls and I would make together on our road trip (thanks Jami- love you!).  Anyway, it totally changed my perspective of the day before we got started and I so needed that!  Thanks to Jami instead of being stressed and grumpy the whole trip (admittedly I was for a little of it mainly when Anabelle woke up early and was screaming and of course there was no where to stop...), anyway, instead of being grumpy the entire trip, I went out of my way to think of fun things we could do in the car as we drove.  One thing we did was to sing through the alphabet.  We went from A to Z and thought of songs that began with each letter (either the title or the first word of the song) and we then had to sing at least the first verse and chorus.  Cracked me up the variety of the songs they came up with- I really didn't help much at all!  Here's our songlist:

A: Amazing Grace
B: Best of Both Worlds (Hannah Montana theme song...)
C:  C is for Cookie (even Naomi contributed)
D: Dynamite 
E: Elmo's World (again, Naomi...)
F: Firework (Katy Perry- yes, my girls are now current on pop culture)
G: Go tell it on the Mountain
H: How Great is our God
I: "Iceskating is fun" (a Naomi original) and It's a Hard Knock Life
J: Jesus Loves Me
K:  Kill the Wabbit (bugs bunny)
L:  Little Girls (Miss Hannagan- Annie)
M:  Maybe (again, Annie)
N:  No Sweeter Name and "Naomi is awesome" (to the tune of Kill the Wabbit- again a Naomi original)
O: Over the River and through the Woods
P: Part of your World (Little Mermaid)
Q:  Quack, quack, quack (5 Little Ducks went out to play...)
R:  Revelation Song
S: Somebody to Love
T: Take a Bow
U:  Under the Sea (Little Mermaid)
V:  "The V-I-B-L-E" (Naomi...) and Victory in Jesus
W:  What does the cow in the manger say?
X:  Only one we couldn't think of!  Any ideas?
Y: You've got a Friend in Me
Z:  Zippidee doo dah

Hope we got at least one of these songs stuck in your head!  

Garden Girl

Maddie with her harvest...

Since we ended up with a little more time in the states than we anticipated, we were able to make one  last trip to Georgia to visit the family farm :).  All of the girls love coming to Nana and Papa's of course, but Maddie especially LOVES coming in the summer time (even in the heat) so she can work in the garden.  She gets so excited about helping with the "harvest" (her words...).  She has always been our "outside girl".  Abbey being the self-proclaimed "inside girl" of the family could care less about getting her hands dirty in the garden (as she would say, "I really don't like to sweat").  Maddie, however loves nothing more than to get a little dirt on her hands especially if gardening is involved.

And thankfully, I love it too.  I grew up helping Granddaddy in his garden and loving every minute of it even in the heat of the day.  Even after Jason and I married and Grands's garden was no longer in his back yard but out at Shelby Farms in Memphis, I would drive over and help him pick whatever was ready on many a morning or evening.  So it's really special to me to see Maddie love this so much.  We got our fill this week of cutting okra, shelling peas and picking tomatoes and cucumbers- and all the yummy meals that result!  Maybe one day we'll actually live in a place where we can have our own garden (guess we should probably start with a yard!) but until then, we will enjoy Papa and Nana's garden any chance we get and all the other benefits of farm living (as I type the girls and their cousins are outside examining the lizard and snake that Papa's barn cat just killed...)

Abundance of okra..


and tomatoes...

The results of the labor...

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Kangaroo Jakes

I hate this place...
But I love these faces when I take them to this place that I hate...
( Okay, I know she's not big enough to be smiling about where she is, but still, I love her sweet face too...)

Maybe I should elaborate a bit- I know "hate" is a pretty strong word to use about a fun (and I use that word loosely) kid's play place but here's the deal with Kangaroo Jakes.  It's in Rome, GA where a lot of our family lives.  We have been going to this place just about every time we've visited for several years.  And I think every time we visit all the adults are secretly hoping that maybe, just maybe the kids will forget this time that there is a place called Kangaroo Jakes where they can go and jump around and act like they have forgotten everything we've ever taught them about wildness and we adults can sit and smell the lovely aroma of stinky children mixed with stinky feet for several hours at a time...  Seriously, who invented these places?  I'm sure most towns have them.  And why are they all located in warehouse type settings with no windows or view of the outside world?  

I'm sure we'll continue to come back and let the kids run around like banchees and get out all that summer energy when it's too stinkin hot outside to do anything else, and maybe deep down in the bottom of my heart, I'll smile a little (or maybe even a lot) because I know how much my kids love this place even though it truly makes me cringe to sit and smell the feet but I'll do it anyway because I love them and I love making them happy... (how's that for a run on sentence?)

One more look at this sweet thing who was perfectly content to sit in her stroller and watch the craziness...

(that's how I felt too, Anabelle.... "WHERE are we and WHy in the world are we here??!!)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

You light up our lives...

Since we're in the states (where all of our pics are at my mom's house), I was able to take a walk down memory lane today looking for pictures of Maddie to celebrate her birthday.  As you'll see from these pictures, her beautiful smile has been lighting up our family for 10 years.  What a joy you are our Maddie-Moo, Moosey-goose, Madimus- Maximus and we can't deny that at one point you truly were Fatty Maddie!   You are growing up into a beautiful young lady and we are so proud of you!!

Smiling so pretty for the camera from early on (see what I mean about Fatty Maddie?- and just so you know she laughs at that nick name...)

about age 1...

The smile got pretty cheesy for a while there...

Almost 2- right before we left for France

Loved that big sister!  (still does most days...)

Age 2-4

Growing too fast!  Age 5-6

7,8 and 9- Wow time flies!

And now 10!  Keep smiling, beautiful girl, we love you!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Maddie's Rainbow Cake

I don't have the emotional energy today to blog about sweet Maddie turning 10, but I can talk about her fabulous birthday cake!  I have always loved doing fun things for the girls birthday cakes.  When they were smaller, the cakes were mostly yellow cakes with bday cake ice cream in some fun shape or design.  Not being a huge fan of plain old birthday cake myself with Crisco icing, it's been fun as they've gotten a little older, to have them want something that actually tastes pretty good to adult's too.

This year I spotted a rainbow cake at a bakery I visited last weekend and knew it would be the perfect cake for Maddie- she agreed.  So I got online and googled (or goggled as my Memommy pronounces it... :)) "rainbow cake" and was very surprised at how many things came up.  Martha Stewart's was definitely the most popular- here is the link and the pretty pictures.  As I read this recipe though, not only did it sound very complicated to me, but it also didn't sound that great- I mean white cake with icing- and holy cow, look at how complicated that icing recipe is!  So I continued looking for something that I thought would actually taste better than a plain old white cake and I came across this recipe- Southern Coconut Cake that looked fabulous.  It looked to make about the same amount of cake as the rainbow cake recipe so I decide to go with it and it was SO WORTH IT!  SUCH a yummy cake.  I basically followed the directions for mixing the coconut cake and then switched over to the Martha Stewart rainbow cake recipe  for putting the cake together.  It was so much fun and such a hit.  Even my husband who is misguided enough to think that the words "too sweet" can actually be put together raved about how fabulous this cake tasted.  I've never made an icing like this either.   A combination of a meringue and cream cheese icing- so light and yummy.  If I do it again, I will actually probably double the icing recipe.  It was meant for the three layer coconut cake so there was not quite enough to go between the 6 layers of the rainbow cake and cover the top- but I improvised with more cream cheese, butter and sugar- can't have enough of cream cheese and sugar, right?  Here's what we did...

First, divide the batter into 6 bowls and color each one (I used gel coloring)

(Maddie was very excited...)

Since our lives are pretty much uprooted right now with all of our belongings being packed up, I used throw away pans and the only ones I could find were square...

Next, the stressful assembly...

And the celebration!..

So much fun to cut into and see the rainbow surprise!

(and I thought you should see a pretty picture of Martha Stewart's cake since mine didn't quite turn out like this...)

Who am I?

I uploaded some pics to facebook yesterday for Maddie's 10th bday (how is she 10??) and also some 2 month pics of Anabelle (I can't believe my baby is 2 months old!) and in the process I also put pictures of the other girls at 2 months old as a sort of guessing game- to me it was totally obvious who each one was because they really don't look that much alike I don't think, but I was surprised at the variety of responses.  Thought it would be fun to put the pics on here as well- see if you can figure out who's who...